Meet The Collector #18: Andrew Phelps

Today the 18th episode of the topic Meet the CollectorMeet the Collector is about passionate people with a focus on collecting. With this topic I will give you an insight in their special collection. Collectors will tell their story behind their treasures, show their most rare and unique items and tell you all about the collecting thrill.

Andrew Phelps has amazing and ultra rare items in his collection. Next to that, he’s also the founder of the High Grade U.S. Standard clothing company, and vintage clothing and antique dealer. Thanks for sharing some treasures of your collection and story Andrew. Enjoy.

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Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps

  • Name: Andrew Phelps.
  • Living in village & country: I live in a small town outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, United States. It is called Moraga.
  • Age: 46 years old this month.
  • Instagram ID: @high.grade.u.s.standard
  • Number of Instagram followers: 3.447 followers.
  • Website: www.highgradeusstandard.com
  • Daily work: High Grade U.S. Standard clothing company, vintage clothing and antique dealer.

What’s your favorite brand:

From a pure branding standpoint, I would choose Rolex. I like some of their products (primarily vintage examples). The company is one of the best of the world in regards to marketing, control of production and distribution. Also, one of the most secretive brands.

What’s your favorite denim brand:  

Well, High Grade U.S. Standard has only released one denim item thus far, but there will be more denim offered in the near future. High Grade U.S. Standard is my most favorite, closely followed by OOE YOFUKUTEN, and ROY.

andrew phelps

What’s your favorite footwear brand:

Early 1960’s Pro-Keds, Sperry Topsider and Jack Purcell for tennis shoes for general summer/spring wear. During Covid, I’ve been at home much more than usual and frequently wear Boudin and Lange Sagan house loafers. Occasionally wear New Balance 990’s if I’m putting in seriously time/miles on the concrete at a flea market.

Will wear vintage Danner or 1930’s work boots for heavy work/ splitting fire wood. Alden Chukkas for casual in town grocery runs. I’m also interested in bespoke shoemakers, especially from Japan. I’m currently on the several year waitlist for a pair of bespoke shoes from Eiji Murata/Main D’or.

How long are you collecting:

I have been collecting one thing or another (sometimes several different categories at a time) since I was 4 or 5 years old, so 41+ years. Beginning with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars of which I had several thousand by the time I stopped. Next was Star Wars which I collected every single normal production action figure and some of the limited release figures (first 3 movies). Baseball cards followed, and comic books too! I started to sell some items at about 10 or 11 years old…

I began buying vintage clothing in high school, and started dealing in it by University time. So, I’ve been dealing/collecting vintage clothing for over 26 years.

How many items are there in your collection:

The collection is fluid, items come and go. I’m generally focused on the quality rather than quantity. I’d much rather have a few extremely rare items in presentable condition rather than a pile of not so rare rags…

How or why did you became a collector:

Genetics. My father was an avid collector from a young age. I really didn’t have a choice. I’ve recently found out that my Grandmother collected as well.

What’s the best thrill about collecting?

The research is the biggest thrill of collecting 1870’s-1880’s San Francisco made work clothing. The history is fascinating, The competition amongst makers was fierce and of course they were very innovative in their designs.

What is your favorite item and why:

Probably my 1874-5 Cheang Quan Wo denim waist overall pantaloons. They are super dark, no wash condition. Very rare in any condition, probably a singular example in their state. Incredible story of a Chinese immigrant being granted a U.S. patent for strengthened work pants.

Andrew Phelps

What’s your best bargain in your collection:

I’ve paid extremely high prices for everything in my collection.

Which item was the hardest to get and/or the most valuable one:

Oldest known denim Levi’s from the first couple of months of production 1873.

Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps

Andrew Phelps

Which item would you add to your collection:

Original 1890’s Levi Strauss 3 pocket Engineer Sack Coat in denim.

Andrew Phelps

Where do you get your daily inspiration from?

History.

What’s your favorite inspiration quote:

“We should always allow some time to elapse, for time discloses the truth.“– by Seneca.

Read also the previous episodes of Meet the Collector;

Jerry van Vorstenbos: Eposide #1

Michael van Hal: Episode #2

Antonio di Battista: Episode #3

Ronald Vijsma: Episode #4

Eric Maggiori: Episode #5

Ruedi Karrer: Episode #6

Viktor Fredbäck: Episode #7

Dave Edwards: Episode #8

Mohsin Sajid: Episode #9

Brit Eaton: Episode #10

Kay Knipschild: Episode #11

Douglas Luhanko (Second Sunrise store): Episode #12

Jasper Lijfering (Amsterdam Vintage Watches): Episode #13

Will Varnam (Military Collector): Episode #14

Mirko Di Giovanni: Episode #15

Alberto Ulmi: Episode #16

Noelie Ronczka (The Brass Lady): Episode #17

Showcase your brand or product on Long John to reach your target audience, read more about it here, or send an email for the possibilities: wouter@long-john.nl

Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrating my 10th anniversary with Long John this year.